Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is forced to campaign against his OWN anti-car policy after pavement barriers turned his constituency into a ‘ghost town’
- Barriers were installed along the pavements in Welwyn, Hertfortshire in May
- Mr Shapps contacted council to admit measures ‘not suited to layout of Welwyn’
- Shopkeepers warned reduced footfall could cause businesses on to close
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has been forced to campaign against his own anti-car policy after pavement barriers turned his constituency into a ‘ghost town.’
Barriers were installed along pavements in Welwyn, Hertfordshire as part of Mr Shapps’ £250million ‘new era’ for cycling and walking, which was announced during a Downing Street coronavirus briefing in May.
More than 1,300 people have now signed a petition asking Hertfordshire County Council to ‘use common sense’ after the measures and one-way system created ‘another dead high street.’
An email seen by the Sunday Telegraph from Mr Shapps’ parliamentary office has revealed how the Transport Secretary contacted the council to admit the measures were ‘not suited to the old layout of Welwyn’ weeks later.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has been forced to campaign against his own anti-car policy after pavement barriers turned his constituency into a ‘ghost town’
It added the barriers, meant to help social distancing, may have been an overzealous measure as there are ‘reduced transmission risks’ outside.
Shopkeepers in Welwyn have warned businesses could be forced to close due to a significant drop in visitor numbers, which was noted just days after the ‘ugly’ barriers and one-day system were installed.
Jane Carr, who launched the petition, said: ‘The barriers make our country village look like a crime scene.
‘Grant Shapps has left us floundering on this issue. I guess he’s between the devil and the deep blue sea given his constituency and government roles.’
Florist Wendy Rowley, who has worked on the high street for 30 years, fears she may have to close her shop due to a reduction in daily customer numbers.
She said: ‘We used to get 40 to 45 customers a day. Now, we are getting two or three visitors through the door. It’s so sad.’
Pictured: Similar barriers seen by the pavement in Piccadilly, London on June 4
The barriers, which could remain in place until 2023 to ease congestion ahead of roadworks on the A1(M), are so disliked they have been dismantled by vigilantes at night.
A Hertfordshire County Council spokesman told the Sunday Telegraph the council was given £1.25million from the Emergency Active Travel Fund amid the coronavirus crisis.
He said traffic restrictions, introduced countywide after ‘detailed discussions’ with public health experts, remained under constant review.
The one-way system was installed ‘to avoid through traffic using the high street, particularly as volumes return to the A1 and work for the smart motorway project commences in earnest later in the year,’ it was added.
Mr Shapps has been contacted for comment.
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